Experiential essays

University of Phoenix wants to help you earn credits for your expertise and life experience. By completing an experiential essay on an approved topic, you may be able to earn college credits that can be applied to a bachelor’s or associate degree.

Before you begin, contact your Academic Advisor to confirm that you need elective credits that can be satisfied with credits earned from an experiential essay.

How to write and submit your essay

  1. Select an approved topic from our experiential essay list
  2. Essays must be written and submitted in our essay template and follow these guidelines:
  3. Submit a 1,500–2,100 autobiography written in the first person. If you are submitting more than one essay for credit, you will only need to submit one autobiography. You may also view a sample autobiography.
  4. Submit supporting documentation along with your essay as evidence that your experience resulted in the level of expertise portrayed in your essay. Acceptable documents include photocopies of licenses and certifications, as well as letters on company letterhead with official signatures from employers, training providers or human resource representatives. Friends and family can also corroborate your knowledge or experience through letters of recommendation. Each individual essay must have separate supporting documentation.
  5. Complete the online application on eCampus:
    • After logging in, select the Program tab at the top of the page.
    • Under Credit Assessment Services, select Prior Learning Assessment Center.
    • At the bottom of the page, select Submit Your Application online.

Earn credits for what you already know

The Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) administers the experiential essay program and approves submitted essays for college credit. The program format is based on Kolb’s experiential learning model, which considers experience a source of learning.

Please contact your academic advisor to confirm that you can apply experiential essay credits to your degree.

How many credits can I receive?

Essays are awarded credit on a pass/fail basis. The number of eligible credits is determined by the length of the essay. Credit is granted if the essay thoroughly covers the topic and subtopics (two, four, or six subtopics). If your experiential learning essay is denied credit, you are allowed only one attempt to rewrite the essay using suggestions from our faculty evaluators.

Essay credit conversion table

Credit amount Word count Number of subtopics
Original 3-credit essay 3,000–4,500 words All 6 subtopics required
Convert to a 2-credit essay 2,000–3,000 words Choose only 4 subtopics
Convert to a 1-credit essay 1,000–2,000 words Choose only 2 subtopics


Review the Experiential essay credit conversion page for more information. You can also study a sample essay that has received experiential essay credit.

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